In its work with 50 communities along the Sepik River – the longest river in New Guinea – the Sepik Wetlands Management Initiative has transformed the local economy and local treatment of wetlands. The sustainable harvest of crocodile eggs from nest sites along the river has become an important source of income for local residents. Previously, crocodile nest sites were being indiscriminately destroyed by wetland fires set for hunting, agriculture, or as part of land ownership disputes.
The initiative instituted a program in which local crocodile egg collectors following specified conservation guidelines would receive a guaranteed return from a commercial crocodile egg retailer. The combination of egg collection and crocodile farming to produce high-quality skins has doubled the annual income in participating communities, all while raising the awareness of wetland values and stressing the cultural importance of crocodiles.